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Louis Harrison & Martin Smith:

United by a love of sports and a drive to positively influence identity and diversity in the world of education, this team of two exudes a reciprocal energy that exemplifies the power of mentorship. A professor of cultural studies in education and physical education teacher education, Dr. Harrison notes that he gets just as much, if not more, out of his collaboration with Ph.D. student Martin Smith. Smith, who played basketball for UC-Berkeley and works with Harrison on the African American Male Research Initiative (AAMRI) at UT Austin, is a leader within the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Allison Skerrett & Thea Williamson:

Ever since Thea Williamson first met with Dr. Skerrett, it has been clear to both women that they share a dedication to meaningful academic research and social justice. As leaders within the UTeach Urban Teachers program, both women work together to support a new generation of specially trained and culturally sensitive educators. But in addition to their scholarly pursuits, Williamson, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and Skerret, an associate professor of language and literacy studies, cooperate on a higher level. As mentorship partners, they are able to explore the challenges and rewards of higher education together.

Mary Steinhart & Matt Lehrer:

Matt Lehrer, who will soon earn his Master of Science in Health Behavior and Health Education, values mentorship as a critical facet of his education. Lehrer knows that his mentor, Dr. Steinhart, has been teaching him critical lessons that go beyond her specialties in health science. As a mentor, Steinhart is able to give Lehrer an insider’s view into her field, where she specializes in the association between psychology and the body’s physical reactions and resilience. But Steinhart is quick to point out that dedication and leadership like Lehrer’s is hard to find, and that she is learning and growing thanks to their partnership.

Preservice undergraduate teachers are paired with practicing mentors enrolled in the Teacher Mentoring, School Leadership & Professional Development program. Both are teachers, both are students, and both practice C.A.R.E. – a model of Critical, Appreciative, Reflective, and Experiential learning.


What is C.A.R.E?

Traditional models of teacher education often overlook two transformative powers: mentorship and experience. Without a mentor, new teachers might be left to flounder in their first years on the job, unable to access tools their seasoned peers take for granted. Similarly, teachers who lack a transitional, guided experience may be unprepared for the realities of leading a classroom.

This is why the College of Education is committed to supporting both preservice and current educators. Undergraduates preparing to enter the teaching workforce participate in a preservice preparation program that pairs them with a mentor teacher. That mentor is also enrolled as a student, and is seeking a master’s degree in Teacher Leadership, Mentoring and Professional Development.

Together, each pair of educators employs the C.A.R.E. model of learning which stands for “critical, appreciative, reflective, and experiential”.

The critical element is all about disrupting traditional power relationships. For example, a mentor teacher may wield his or her experience as an indicator of superiority, leaving a preservice teacher unable to interact as an equal. By engaging in problems of practice, a mentor teacher can instead offer evaluative feedback without disrupting a power balance.

Appreciative elements of the mentorship relationship focus on leading conversations with positives. Mentor teachers will point out what went well and seemed to work in the classroom, and ask the preservice teacher for input about what could have gone better. This leads to a reflective element. Both teachers are encouraged to discuss the reasoning behind their decision-making both during and after times of instruction.

The most powerful of these elements is experience. As with mentorship, learning by doing is the key to equipping new teachers with the tools they need to thrive as educators in their first years and beyond. By practicing the elements of successful mentorship, master’s students learn best practices for a career as an education leader.